Healthy Comfort Food
“FIT BODY Kitchen Comfort Foods” is the work of a registered dietitian who once struggled with her own health and weight. She’s a mother of five who wants her teenage daughters to avoid her struggles and a nutrition specialist who wants to share healthy takes on familiar foods. With the help of her business partners at Alive Nutrition, Dustin and Leslie Boswell, Jessica Alstrom, RDN delivers a self-published book that offers many possibilities for tasty, healthy eating.
It’s no surprise that a comprehensive cookbook includes recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But readers will also find snacks, happy hour bites and desserts in this 127-page book. Alstrom provides information about how the metabolism works (“a body well fed, well exercised and well hydrated will utilize more energy and burn more calories”); and the role that protein plays in a balanced diet (“In fact, the word ‘protein’ is derived from the Greek meaning ‘of first importance’”).
She also says that, “fats play a key role in hormone production, skin health, joint health, fat-loss and even many chemical processes such as blood clotting and muscle contractions.” Alstrom describes different varieties of carbohydrates, including fibrous, starchy, sugar and processed. She provides 13 tips for healthy carbohydrate consumption — such as eating red potatoes rather than white, or apples with peanut butter rather than spreading it on bread.
Readers will find descriptions of “unusual” ingredients such as protein powder or Stevia, although guar and xanthan gum, and powdered peanut butter aren’t included. I would have preferred to learn more about unusual ingredients inside of the book, rather than being sent to the company website to find some of this information. And recipe titles that include ‘chocolate’ but use carob, instead, are misleading. It is also disappointing that salt content doesn’t appear in recipe nutrition boxes either.
That said, these comfort foods, pictured in full-page color photographs, are wonderfully enticing, from Breakfast items such as Pumpkin Muffins and Cowboy Quiche (with turkey chorizo sausage), to Kale Crisps or Spicy Glazed Pecans for Snacks. Health-conscious Jumbo Coconut Shrimp with Spicy Chili Garlic Sauce, and Hot Wings & Greek Blue Cheese Dip, are several Happy Hour options.
Saying that “Your healthy lunch can counteract [a] crash,” this book offers eight dishes that could also work at dinnertime. Think Rotisserie Chicken Chili, Spinach, Gouda & Prosciutto Crust-less Quiche, or Caliente Turkey Meatloaf made with ground turkey and crushed flaxseed tortilla chips. Make a Spicy Tuna Salad Sandwich with Wasabi mayonnaise, avocado and radish sprouts, and savor Charred Steak & Pepper Fajitas.
Alstrom and Boswell call dinner “the most social meal of the day,” and offer recipes such as Quinoa Crab Cakes. The ingenious Pasta-less Chicken Lasagna substitutes dried provolone for traditional pasta. There are instructions for preparing the quinoa side dish for Spicy Steak Stir-Fry, and creating an unusual dinner starch in the recipe for Protein Fried Chicken & Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes.
Ranging from Lemon Pound Cake and Fruit Sorbet to Choc-Aholic Chocolate Cake or Vanilla Espresso Chocolate Protein Cupcakes, 13 recipes in the Dessert chapter sound — and look — delicious. Enjoy Protein-Packed Low-Carb Ice Cream and Fruit Sorbet, too.
Throughout this attractive book, each recipe page features plenty of white space, and lists yield, as well as prep and total time needed to complete the dish. Recipes feature free-range chicken and coconut oil — known for its ability to withstand high heat and multiple health benefits — as well as raw, organic butter. Greek yogurt adds creaminess to many recipes, while protein powder appears frequently, and Stevia and Xylitol stand in for sugar.
Readers who are willing to use fresh and organic ingredients, and change their sweeteners should thoroughly enjoy cooking with these recipes. This book is full of healthy options that will also taste great. And isn’t that what terrific food is all about?
Q & A with lead author Jessica Alstrom, RDN
435 South: Who will benefit most from using these recipes?
Jessica Alstrom: It was written primarily for our clients but it’s also good for diabetics, insulin resistance, hyper and hypothyroid syndrome and ADD and gluten sensitivity. Grains and white, processed sugar imbalance the body.
435: Did you set out to minimize gluten?
JA: These are recipes created over 15 years. I don’t think the human body uses gluten that well so I’ve just always cooked that way.
435: You use cheese in some recipes, but choose non-milk substitutes. Why?
JA: We pick our battles. A lot of milk and cheese in your diet will slow you down [but cheese is harder to replace].
435: Coconut oil appears in many recipes. What oil can people use if they are allergic to coconut or don’t like its taste?
JA: You can use olive oil or safflower oil as long as you don’t heat it too high.
“FIT BODY Kitchen Comfort Foods” is available through Alive Nutrition
(FitBodyKitchen.com), Amazon.com and other retailers.